A boulevard for Bo

Portion of U.S. 411 to be renamed in honor of Bo Henry

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By Lance Coleman
Editor
Blount Today

The Tennessee state legislature is preparing to honor one of Blount County’s own by creating Bo Henry Highway.

The state house is scheduled to vote on a resolution on Wednesday, May 2, that would honor a former Blount County legislator who helped create the scenic highway designation that prevents the clutter of highways with billboards. They will vote to designate a portion of U.S. 411 South Clifford H. "Bo" Henry Highway.

Henry served in the state house from 1975 to 1982 and served for 15 years on the Tennessee Board of Regents.

State Rep. Doug Overbey said several constituents suggested he file a bill to honor Henry with the designation.

"I was enthusiastic from the beginning and filed the bill," Overbey said. "Then I thought I’d better talk to the county mayor."

County Mayor Jerry Cunningham said he supported the idea. "I was thrilled to death. Bo and his wife, Shirley, are one of the finest couples in Blount County," Cunningham said.

Cunningham recalled some of the good things Henry did for the area, including keeping an important business in East Tennessee. He said Loudon County almost lost the Staley Company to Cartersville, Ga., during the 1980s. "We called Bo, and he got busy and called (then governor) Lamar (Alexander), and Lamar had (Staley) to the governor’s mansion," Cunningham said.

Because of those efforts, the Staley Company located in Loudon County and brought jobs to the area. "We know what that meant for Loudon County’s economy," Cunningham said.

Overbey said Henry also had a hand in a popular program that preserves scenic sections of highways from being cluttered with billboards. "I think Bo was instrumental in the legislature in getting the scenic highway program," Overbey said.

Henry said it’s an honor to have a highway named after him. "I’m surprised by it, really," Henry said. The couple planned to go to Nashville Wednesday for the resolution.

Henry said he thought the main reason he was being recognized was for his work in keeping highways and rivers scenic. "If you’ll notice, in Blount County, we don’t have very many billboards. We’ve kept the roads fairly clear of junk yards, and the rivers free of junk, too," he said.

Henry said Pellissippi Parkway was on the scenic road list before it was ever built, as was Lamar Alexander Parkway through Blount County before it was completed. "There are only two billboards between Maryville and Lenoir City," he said. "They were built before the road was completed."

Henry said the scenic highway designation was passed in the late 1970s. Henry worked closely with then Gov. Lamar Alexander to get the legislation passed.

The portion of road honoring Henry will be U.S. 411, beginning at East Broadway Ave. at Washington Street and continuing to the Loudon County line. The portion of U.S. 411 going northeast along Sevierville Road to U.S. 441 (Chapman Highway) will be designated in honor of Sam Houston, the Maryville school teacher who went on to lead Texas in the war with Mexico.

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